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1 The TeIllplars A little over a hundred years after they attained their greatest fame, the Good Templars have disappeared from history books. Only an occasional mention in accounts of the temperance movement reminds us that they existed. Historians of race, gender, and international moral reform have forgotten them. Rescuing the Templars from this neglect and obscurity will enhance understanding of the Anglo-American world in the middle and late nineteenth century.1 In a remarkable amalgam the Templars brought together characteristics associated with other and now better-known organizations as diverse as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Freemasons, the YMCA and YWCA, the Society of Friends, the Methodists, and that medieval crusading order of warrior monks called the Knights Templar , which inspired the Good Templars' name. In the 1870s and 1880s, among groups hostile to alcoholic drink, the Templars were the world's most numerous and most militant . In addition to being a teetotal organization, the Independent Order of Good Templars was one of the world's largest fraternal societies . A mixture of lodge ritual, wholesome companionship, and denunciation of drink attracted a youthful membership in North America, Britain and its Empire, and other parts of the world. Millions of men and women joined the Templars after the Civil War, most of them white, a few of them black. Their motto was "Faith, Hope, and Charity." Templars stood out in the world of nineteenth-century fraternal societies. Joining sisterhood with brotherhood, the Templars violated the gender basis of fraternalism by inviting women to join as full members. Among the innumerable quasi-Masonic ritual brotherhoods founded in North America, only the Templar Order developed into a genuinely international society with a sizable transoceanic membership and a powerful central organization. Most important for 5 6 Temperance and Racism this book, in an age of white supremacist racism the IOGT tried to provide some kind of membership for African Americans. The controversy over the rights of blacks culminated in the great schism that divided the international organization from 1876 to 1887. Such dramatic events could not have been foreseen in the early 1850s when a handful of young men and boys started the Templar Order in west-central New York state. Nobody could have predicted much of a future for the parochial new organization. Understanding the success of the IOGT must begin with the two social movements that can be styled its parents: temperance and fraternalism. They in turn owed a good deal to the Second Great Awakening, which transformed American society between the 1780s and the mid-1800s, and its optimism about moral reform through nondenominational voluntary associations.2 Connections with other topics, notably women's history, make temperance a respectable subject for research today, although in a secular age religiously motivated teetotalers and prohibitionists arouse a derision that diminishes the importance historians assign the temperance movement. To an even greater extent, intellectual snickers handicap the study of the fraternal movement as part of popular culture. Images of boisterous Shriner parades and smoky poker games at the Elks lodge make it easy to dismiss fraternal societies as ephemeral. The late twentieth century tends to find a previous generation's taste for lodge ritual unintelligible. Until recently, historians have regarded fraternal societies as a curiosity, fraternal temperance societies as doubly quaint, and research that focused on them as antiquarianism leading nowhere. The only general study of the Sons of Temperance, the organization that pioneered fraternal temperance in North America, remains an unpublished dissertation completed in the mid-1960s.3 In contrast, there is in print a shelf of books that focus on the WCTU, an antiliquor organization that historians study because of its female membership . \ What was the temperance movement? Mter a brief period early in the nineteenth century when temperance meant refusing to drink spirits, it became identified with total abstinence from alcohol as a beverage. Many reformers also objected to medicinal alcohol and fermented wine in the eucharistic sacrament. They showed little patience with so-called moderate drinkers who lent respectability to drinking and the beverage alcohol trade. The arguments and rhetoric of the temperance movement drew heavily upon evangelical Protestantism . Borrowing from religious revivalism its emotionalism and The Templars 7 demand for personal commitment, temperance reform became a mass movement in the United States.4 The temperance movement first called for a voluntary pledge against drinking and later for some kind of prohibition. When they became prohibitionists, temperance reformers entered politics to make the sale...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813161518
Related ISBN
9780813119847
MARC Record
OCLC
903964986
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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